Is It “About Us”? Self-Representation of Technical Communication Consultants, Independent Contractors, and Companies on the Web

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Abstract:

Purpose: This article explores the purposes, character, and efficacy of “about us” information that technical communication contractors, consultants, and companies post on their business Web sites.

Method: The study surveyed an international sample of 240 independent technical communicators who maintain Web sites to market their services, and interviewed a subset of survey respondents.

Results: Overall, participants perceived their Web site's information about both their business and themselves to be somewhat useful in marketing their services, though they were also divided about which of these two types was the more useful. Regardless of whether their business comprised just themselves or a larger corporation with associates, some participants foregrounded their business's identity to build credibility whereas others foregrounded their own and their associates' personal identities to build rapport.

Conclusion: “About us” information about a business and about its people can be usefully conceived as two distinct types of information, each deployed selectively to serve distinct purposes. Among the factors that may influence whether and how a technical communication business would foreground a corporate face or a personal face are not necessarily its corresponding corporate or personal status but instead the business's industry, its location internationally, its size, and the qualifications and gender of its people.

Keywords: ETHICS; INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS AND CONSULTANTS; SELF-REPRESENTATION; TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION COMPANIES; WEB SITES; “ABOUT US” INFORMATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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